For twenty years Henry Mitchell’s column entitled “Earthman” was a weekly feature in The Washington Post. Even non-gardeners enjoyed the work of this major essayist.
As a writer, Mitchell was amusing, passionate about the natural world, and never ever boring. Quotes such as “marigolds should be used as sparingly as ultimatums” are memorable.
And his statement that
“Gardens are like people’s lives: they aim at different goals, all more or less legitimate. But this means that a superb garden of one type will draw only blank astonishment from another gardener whose plot is of another type.”
Also, his comment about azaleas is instructive and highlights aspects such as the effect of the length of bloom. He wrote,
“Azaleas are an example of flowers that finish blooming just about the time I get sick of looking at them. For some people azaleas bloom too long, but for me they hit it just about right. I never have had a bellyful. And when spring comes around again, the azaleas are greeted like long lost friends. So, there is something to be said for not being gorgeous for so long that everybody loses interest. The coming and going of flowers, the rise and fall of plants, are of utmost importance in the pleasure of gardening.”
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on Henry Mitchell.